THE Valley is shut down with restrictions in the old city areas following a protest programme of separatists, but that hasn’t stopped people from queueing up outside bank branches to exchange old denomination notes or withdraw money.
Despite assurances, the ATMs are not working. Just a few ATMs of J&K Bank at the busy Residency Road were functional and even these ran out of cash within a few hours following the heavy rush.
Outside the main branch of HDFC Bank on Residency Road, despite the shutdown, a queue of young and old were waiting for their turn at the counter. The branch is in the heart of the city, with its clientele being businessmen and service class people.
“Please exchange this Rs 500 note,” pleaded a young man from the old city with a top manager. Seeing the long queue, the manager pulled five Rs 100 notes from his pocket and handed them over to the man. “I had no money to buy groceries for the family. This manager bailed me out. I waited an hour for this small exchange,” the man said.
The managers at the bank told The Indian Express that they have been told not to talk to the media but admitted that people are depositing old Rs 1,000 and 500 notes in their accounts. “There is no end to the long queues. Due to the strike we are able to manage it. For the time being, the strike is proving a blessing in disguise,’’ said one of the managers. “We are trying to manage. And hopefully by evening all our ATMs will start working.’’
The manager said that but for the strike, the situation would have been different. “We are trying so that no one returns without exchange from this branch. So far, only a few businessmen have come with cash deposits, maybe in the coming days the rush will increase,’’ one of the managers said.
“I live 7 km away. I had been waiting since morning to deposit my Rs 1,000 notes. The bank opened late and they are saying I cannot deposit notes without ID proof. I say check my signature on the deposit form, after all I have an account in this branch,” said Altaf Hussain, who owns a grocery shop in Lal Chowk.